Unique Toy Stores in Marin

October 27, 2014

Toy CrazyHere in Marin, we're fortunate to able to frequent many unique and often independent locally owned toy stores. A place to take the kids while looking for the 20th birthday gift of the year. A place where the person behind the counter is usually the owner, a member of the owner’s family, or a longtime manager who knows everything there is to know about toys. There are usually samples out and about, great for playing, and there are items guaranteed to bring back a major sense of nostalgia.

Yes, the toy store of yore—some still exist! They’ve managed to survive the arrivals of gigantic retail monsters who’ve plopped themselves down in a cool 20,000 square feet of space in a strip mall somewhere down the road. So next time you need a gift, a new addition to the household toy inventory, or just maybe a half an hour of peace, hit up one of these super cool spots. Not only will you be supporting a local business, but the kiddos will have a blast to boot.

The 2014 Marin Mommies Pumpkin Patch Poll!

October 26, 2014

Petaluma Pumpkin PatchEvery family has their favorite place to pick their Halloween pumpkins. What's yours? Tell the world by voting for your favorite pumpkin patch below in Marin Mommies' fifth annual Pumpkin Patch Poll. You don't need to be a registered user to vote, so make your choice known! Participants can vote only once, and the poll will be open through Sunday, October 26, 2014.

2013's winner was was Marin County favorite Nicasio Valley Farms Pumpkin Patch, followed by Santa Rosa Pumpkin Patch (last year's winner) in second, and with the Great Peter Pumpkin Patch at Spring Hill Farm in Petaluma coming in third. Who will take the top pumpkin patch honors this season?

If you don't see your favorite Marin or Sonoma County pumpkin patch listed here, let us know about it.

Nicasio Valley Farms
18% (12 votes)
Santa Rosa Pumpkin Patch
0% (0 votes)
The Great Peter Pumpkin Patch
17% (11 votes)
Petaluma Pumpkin Patch and Amazing Corn Maze
48% (32 votes)
McClelland's Dairy Pumpkin Patch
9% (6 votes)
Tolay Fall Festival
5% (3 votes)
Saint Vincent's Pumpkin Patch
3% (2 votes)
Total votes: 66

Time Change and Babies/Toddlers: How to Help Your Little One Adjust

October 26, 2014

sleeping toddlerMarin Mommies presents another great guest article by Marin parent coach, infant/toddler sleep researcher, and family therapist Angelique Millette.

With the time change approaching, I have received many e-mails and phone calls from parents asking how they can help their babies and toddlers transition to the new time without upsetting their child’s sleep.

Starting Sunday, November 2, at 2 am, clocks will be set back one hour—“fall back.”

You can help your baby or toddler by starting to adjust their internal clocks/circadian rhythms ahead of the time change on Sunday. Starting Tuesday, October 28, begin to put baby down 10 minutes later for bed. You can do this by comforting, singing or book reading, and/or starting the bedtime ritual/routine 10 minutes later. Do this for the rest of the week, so when the time change does happen, your baby will have slowly adjusted to the new time.

If your baby or toddler’s bedtime is 7 pm, it will look like this:

Halloween Craft: Recycled Glass Pumpkin Votives

October 25, 2014

Halloween pumpkin votives recycled craftThis easy craft project is so much fun to make, and the finished product looks fantastic, especially when lit with a flickering candle. Best of all, you can make them using materials from your recycling bin! These Halloween pumpkin votives are simple to make, and are a perfect craft project for all ages, with parental supervision, of course. My second-grade daughter and I created the pair of jack-o-lanterns lanterns shown here.

This project is a little messy, so make sure you have a good work area that's easy to clean up. You can also create variations on this craft: use white tissue to make ghost lanterns, and green to make monsters.

To make this project, you'll need:

  • Glass jars from the recycling bin
  • Mod Podge
  • Orange tissue paper, cut into 1- to 2-inch squares

Marin Family Weekend Fun for October 24, 25 & 26

October 24, 2014

Here are our picks for great events and activities for children and families this weekend. Find more events for the whole week in Marin and beyond in our Family Events Calendar.

Check out our list of Halloween pumpkin patches in Marin and Sonoma counties—see our list here.

Friday, October 24

  • Halloween Music and Magic Show
    Mill Valley Community Center
    Friday,  4–7:30 pm

    It's a sppoktacular time for the whole family! Kick off the evening with some lively music. Then... thrills and chills with Zappo the Musician as he amazes us with his Halloween magic show. It's a 45-minute show for goblins ages 3 to 103. Cost: $9, free for kids 3 and under. For more info, visit their website.
  • Trunk or Treat at the Center
    Mill Valley Community Center Parking Lot
    Friday, 5–6:30 pm

    Various City Departments, local business and service organizations will be on site to show off their creativity and pass out treats to trick-or-treaters of all ages. Costumes are encouraged! Marin Theater Company will present a special Halloween inspired performance. Let's Eat Grill Stop Food Truck will be on site from 3:30–6:30 pm cooking up yummy grub for sale. Location: 180 Camino Alto, Mill Valley. For more info call (415) 383-1370 or email recreate@cityofmillvalley.org.
  • Novato Horsemens' Haunted House
    Novato Horsemen, Novato
    Friday, Saturday & Sunday, 5–9 pm

    There will be free family fun for all ages: a pumpkin patch, corn maze, and more...  Admission for haunted house is $5 per person. Location: 600 Bugeia Lane, off Atherton in Novato. For more info, visit their website.
  • SuperNatural Halloween 2014
    California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco
    Friday, 5–9 pm

    Grab your costume and have yourself a ghoulishly great time trick-or-treating your way through the Academy at night, among spooky skulls and spine-tingling specimens! Purchase tickets here. For more info, visit their website.

Saturday, October 25

  • Halloween Festival
    Marin Country Mart, Larkspur Landing
    Saturday, 9 am–1 pm

    Bring the family out for some fun at the fall Halloween Festival. There is an organic pumpkin patch, pumpkin carving, apple pressing, pony rides, crafts and more... Costume swap from 9 am–1 pm (bring one, get one), kids music from 9:30–10:30 am and a pup costume parade at George Pet Store at 11 am. For more info, visit their website.
  • Family Explorers Bay Sail
    Bay Model, Sausalito
    Saturday, 9:30 am–noon

    Set sail for family adventureon the schooner Seaward. Navigate the bay, hoist sails, and learn a bit about bay ecology during this 2.5 hour experience filled with breathtaking views and one-of-a-kind memories. $35/person, pre-registration required. Children of all ages are welcome. Baby carriers are suggested for children 4 and under. Cost: $35 per person. Register online here. Location: 2100 Bridgeway, Sausalito. For more info, visit their website.
  • Scream on the Green Faire
    Downtown Novato
    Saturday, 10 am–5 pm & Sunday, 10 am–4 pm

    Bring the entire family for the first Scream on the Green Faire weekend in Downtown Novato. Activities include: Safe trick-or-treating downtown on Saturday from 11 am–1 pm, a haunted house, pumpkin carving contest, costume contest, live music, children's play area, and food and beverages. Location: Sherman Avenue and the Civic Green and City Hall complex. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marin Wildlife Discovery Day
    Children's Island at Lagoon Park, San Rafael
    Saturday, 10 am–2 pm

    Let’s celebrate the diversity of Marin’s unique and fascinating wildlife! Please join us, the Marin Municipal Water District, and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy as we host the first Marin Wildlife Discovery Day (part of the 10-day Bay Area Science Festival). The event will feature hands-on science learning activities and fun for the entire family! Parking and admission are free. For more info, visit their website.
  • Get to Know WildCare
    Gerstle Park, San Rafael
    Saturday, 10 am–12:30 pm
    Enjoy a short hike in nearby Gerstle Park, where we may spot red-shouldered hawks and dusky-footed woodrat nests. Following will be a tour of WildCare where you will meet non-releasable ambassador animals in the courtyard and museum, and learn why they are there. You will learn about our hospital and how you can help to keep our wildlife safe. For more info, call (415) 453-1000 ext. 17 or visit their website.
  • Happy Creepy Halloween
    Lawrence Hall of Science, Berkeley
    Saturday, 10 am–5 pm

    Kids of all ages can participate in Halloween-themed engineering activities with a haunted robot developed by UC Berkeley's Pioneers in Engineering (PiE). Design and build your own robot in a special Halloween-themed Design Quest engineering station, then test which items your robot can drop into the Witches' Cauldron (11 am–3 pm). From gooey eyeballs to skeletons, which spooky items will you and your robot find in the witches' brew? Free with admission. Location: 1 Centennial Drive, Berekely. For more info, call (510) 642-5132 or visit their website.
  • Boo at the Zoo
    San Francisco
    Zoo
    Saturday & Sunday, 11 am–3 pm
    Bring your family to Boo at the Zoo for incredible thrills and chills! Roam the Zoo in search of candy, see special animal enrichment, create take-home crafts, take your picture with Casper the Friendly Ghost and much more. All activities are free with paid San Francisco Zoo admission: Kids wearing costumes get $1 off admission. Members get in free every day. For more info, visit their website.
  • Annual Halloween Bash at Bon Air
    Bon Air Center, Greenbrae
    Saturday, noon–4 pm

    A mashup of Halloween and makers, celebrating community-made arcade games (started at the Mini Maker Faire in September), with free trick-or-treating and a food drive. Part of the Bay Area Science Festival. For more info, visit their website.
  • Saint Raphael School Halloween Festival and Haunted house
    San Rafael
    Saturday, noon-4 pm

    Games, food and a haunted house. Bring canned food for the needy and receive 2 free tickets for games. Location: 1100 Fifth Avenue, San Rafael. For more info, call (415) 454-4455 or visit their website.
  • Trick or Treat on Fourth Street
    Downtown San Rafael
    Saturday, 1–2:30 pm

    Every year, the Downtown San Rafael Business Improvement District (BID) hosts a free and safe trick-or-treating experience for kids on Fourth Street in Downtown San Rafael, starting at San Rafael City Plaza. In addition, there will be a haunted house at Saint Raphael's School at 1100 Fifth Avenue. The haunted house, designed for all ages, will be spooking kids from 11 am–3 pm. Stop by and play games or make a craft before the trick or treating begins. For more info, visit their website.

Rituals of Connection & Celebration

October 22, 2014

Dr. Michelle Gannon and Dr. Sam JinichMarin Mommies presents a guest article by Dr. Michelle Gannon and Dr. Sam Jinich, clinical psychologists and couples workshop leaders.

If you are in a relationship, we hope that you will find these rituals of connection and celebration helpful with your partner. Also, you can use many of these rituals of connection and celebration with your children to build positive feelings of safe, close and secure attachment.

The more accessible, responsive and emotionally engaged (A.R.E.) you are with each other, the more you can keep your positive feelings of love alive, strong and fullfilling. Rituals of connection and celebration show each other that we matter, we are there for each other, we can count on each other and we are important to each other.  When partners and family members engage in rituals of connection and celebration with each other, they report feeling a greater sense of closeness, positivity and happiness.  The couples feel more securely attached and bonded with each other.

Rituals of Connection are actions that are created, practiced and designed to build connection and closeness. Please consider the following rituals of connection.

  • How do you say good morning to each other?
  • Do you make it a priority to hug or kiss each other when you say hello and good-bye?

Fall Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

October 21, 2014

I'm a big fan of cooking with pumpkin, which is one of the reasons I love the fall. Pumpkin soup, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bars, pumpkin ravioli—they're all delicious. My kids' favorite are these pumpkin oatmeal cookies, which are chewy and, I like to think, actually good for you. These cookies are a great treat for the lunchbox too.

I mix in in dark chocolate chunks (chocolate chips work equally well), walnuts, and dried cranberries to make them more interesting. They're also fantastic with toasted pumpkin seeds instead of the walnuts. In fact, feel free to use whatever you like to mix in: white chocolate chips, raisins, dried cherries, and pecans are all good.Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Common Core Standards and Their Implementation

October 21, 2014

Mathnasium Mill ValleyMarin Mommies presents a guest article by Scott Rubin of Mill Valley Mathnasium on the new Common Core Standards now being used in many Marin schools.

Central to any discussion of the Common Core is the distinction between the standards established by Common Core and the process of implementing those standards within School Districts.

The Standards are the “what” and “when.”

Hiking with Kids in Marin: Las Gallinas Wildlife Ponds

October 21, 2014

Hiking with Kids: Las Gallinas Wildlife PondsI know it sounds a little strange, but a great hike that's perfect for kids can be found on the grounds of the Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District in northern San Rafael. It's a complex of trails and fire roads near the district's treatment plants off of Smith Ranch Road, near McInnis Park. The gravel trails here are wide and flat, and are perfect for off-road strollers and bikes. The paths wind atop levees through the wetlands bordering San Pablo Bay, and offer amazing views of Marin.

A wide variety of birds make their homes out here, and we've seen white pelicans, Canada geese (plenty of them), mallards, cormorants, turkey vultures, several kinds of egrets, black-crowned night herons, red-wing blackbirds, and others. It's kind of a "who's who" of local avian wildlife, so make sure you bring your binoculars!

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